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Actor Cage appointed UN goodwill ambassador


The Oscar winning actor Nicholas Cage has been appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. He also won the U.N. Correspondents Association's Global Citizen of the Year award for humanitarian endeavours.

The appointment was made by UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa at the UN Correspondent's Association (UNCA) 14th Annual Benefit Dinner in New York.

Making the announcement, Costa said: "Nicolas Cage's characters have exposed us to some of the darkest aspects of human nature. Now he is championing one of the most noble - the quest for justice. The Lord of War has become a messenger for peace, the Bad Lieutenant has turned into a good cop, and the inmate from Con Air has become a champion of prison reform. His star status and strong conviction on these issues will help us achieve security and justice for all."

Cage is the fourth Hollywood actor who has joined the club of Goodwill Ambassadors including Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron. Cage has been active in raising awareness about international arms control and has donated $2 million to establish a fund that helps former child soldiers.

Source: United Nation's Information Service

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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